Genetic Counseling Success Stories

Daiana BucioDaiana Bucio

Major: Genetics & Genomics, Human Development Minor

Overall GPA: 3.52

Graduation Year: 2016

Which school are you attending?

I received six offers and I accepted a spot at Stanford School of Medicine.

What UC Davis extracurriculars did you participate in?

I was a peer advisor at the UC Davis Biology Academic Success Center. I interned with the pediatric genetic counselors at the UC Davis MIND Institute for a year. I volunteer at the California Youth Crisis Hotline in Sacramento. I have also done clinical work with autistic children, gone abroad to work with children in a Mexican orphanage, and volunteered at a clinic in Nicaragua.

How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?

It varied. Once I became more serious about my studies, I followed the Carnegie Rule, which is 2-3 hours of studying for every hour I spent in class. 

Did you use a test prep course?

My programs required that I take the GRE. To prepare, I took the Kaplan GRE online course. I chose this because it allowed me to go home for the summer and log into classes from there. I also knew that I need some sort of framework for my studies. I recommend it for anyone who wants both the freedom of taking classes anywhere at any time, and the structure of having deadlines and homework.

What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?

My experiences both on and off campus were definitely my strengths.

Did you apply nationally?

Yes, about half of my applications were out of state.

What advice do you have for others?

It can be hard to find your place at a large school like UC Davis. I really encourage you to get involved in something you love to do. You will be amazed at the many paths that open up and the amazing people you meet once you put yourself out there. Also, take advantage of your campus resources. I wish I had done this from day one! Your journey towards a professional health career does not have to be traveled alone. 


RebeccaFreemanRebecca Freeman

Major: Genetics

Overall GPA: 3.66

Graduation Year: 2012

Which school are you attending?

UC Irvine

What UC Davis extracurriculars did you participate in?

I worked in two laboratories on campus, obtaining research experience and completing an honors thesis project - I had initially been planning on pursuing a PhD after graduation, but I changed my mind the year after I finished my degree. While I was an undergraduate, I worked off-campus as a manager for a veterinary clinic.

How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?

Between 10-20 hours per week for a full course load.

Did you use a test prep course?

I did not, but I used the official GRE study materials (vocab flash cards!!) to study on my own time.

What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?

I had a solid metrics, but I think I stood out as an applicant due to my unusual background and my “real world” experience. I began working full-time when I was 16, so I had 8 years of work experience (in sales, management and in the laboratory) when I applied. As a result, I was able to tell the admission committee stories other students didn’t have. I didn’t have as many extracurriculars, crisis counseling experiences, etc, but I described my professional experiences so that they served in the same role. I tried to seem like a memorable applicant with a unique skill set.

Did you apply nationally?

No, I only applied to schools in California. I was expecting to be rejected my first time applying, and was happily surprised! I’m very satisfied with where I ended up, but for other prospective students, I highly recommend applying more broadly to increase your chance of admission.

What advice do you have for others?

Don’t get so caught up in your metrics (GPA/GRE). Of course, you need to meet the minimum expectations, but focus more on standing out as an individual and telling your personal story. Participate in activities you’re passionate about, so you excel. Any activity can support your application, as long as you describe how these activities helped you build import skills such as leadership, organization or communication.  Many students focus so closely on checking off all the boxes in an application, they lose sight of what makes them stand out as an applicant.